Karate is a Japanese word that translates into English as, “empty hand.” It is a martial art of unarmed self-defense in which directed blows of the hands or feet are delivered with special shouts from a poised stance. Karate is related to judo but stresses striking techniques, through kicks and punches, rather than wrestling or throwing an opponent.
Karate has a long history that goes back as far as 3000 BC At that time there was a king in India who discovered the pressure points of man. He killed 100 slaves by sticking large needles into different parts of their bodies to locate the pressure points. Not long after this king died, Buddhism and the secret information about the pressure points were introduced to China. The Chinese used this information to further their study of karate (that they were developing at that time.) They were learning many of their techniques from watching and coping animals. For instance, the student who was learning from the tiger, would grow his fingernails long, and use them to scratch or claw. Other groups learned from the monkey, praying mantis, birds, and other animals. Later the Chinese introduced some of their discoveries of karate to the Okinawan’s.
Up until about 500 years ago, karate had not been developed to its full capacity as a martial art as we know of it today. In 1609, the island of Okinawa was defeated and conquered by a Japanese lord, “Shimazu” and his army. All the weapons Shimazu found on the island were taken away from the people. This forced the Okinawan's to change their farming tools into weapons and to perfect their own type of karate, (which they had been slowly developing during the last century,) in order to strike back at the enemy.
They begin beating their knuckles, knees, elbows, and even foreheads into sand to toughen and make protective calluses. Their fists became so tough; some men could break rock with one blow or run their hand literally through another man. Both the pressure from Lord Shimazu and what martial arts information the Chinese had secretly taught the Okinawan's, speeded up the perfection of karate into a deadly art.
The art of karate was kept in secrecy for about three centuries. Then in 1922, karate was introduced to the Japanese public by the Okinawan professor Funakoshi Gichin (1867 - 1955), and the art today is chiefly associated with Japan. Today there are names for the different systems of karate that are taught. One can be easily confused by thinking that names like “Kung Fu”, “Tae Kwon Do” etc are names for different types of martial arts. These are names of the different types of karate that you can study. There are two basic types of karate that both men and women are taught today. They are classified as “sport karate” and “combat karate”. A sport karate student learns the basic techniques of karate and usually competes in tournaments. He only has to make light contact with his opponent, by kicking or punching, to score a “point”. He can be disqualified from the match if “hard” contact is made. The combat karate man is taught to make full contact with his elbows; therefore, he can not fight combat style in a sport karate tournament. He is also taught to build tough calluses on his knuckles and hands, and can usually break cement block with them.
The present meaning of karate is as follows: it symbolizes the heart of the martial arts of defending one’s own body against an enemy only with an empty hand. All students of karate are taught never to use karate, except in self-defense.
A karate workout is 25 percent perspiration and 75 percent determination. Stated another way, its one part physical exertion and three parts self-discipline. Doing it is easy once you get started.
A karate workout makes you better today than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind, toughens the spirit and develops your own self-defense. When you workout regularly, your problems diminish and your confidence grows.
A karate workout is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination. It is a badge of a winner – the mark of an organized, goal oriented person who takes charge of his or her destiny.
A karate workout is a wise use of time and an investment in excellence. It is a way of preparing for life’s challenges and proving to yourself that you have what it takes to do what is necessary.
A karate workout is a key that helps to unlock the door to opportunity and success. Hidden within each of us is an extraordinary force called “KI”. Physical and mental fitness are the triggers that can release this force.
A karate workout is a form of Rebirth. When you finish a good karate workout, you don’t simply feel better. You feel better about yourself.
Virtually anyone can study Karate. There are no age requirements or limitations; however it is recommended that a person be of an age where an attention span can be maintained. This varies from child to child.
Physical or mental handicaps do not exclude a student from training. It is often recommended that a student with a serious handicap begin with private instruction.